Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve - A Covenant Prayer Reflection

I hope you have each had a blessed 2008.  And by blessed, I don't mean happy. I know in each of our lives there have been moments of great sadness, moments of pain, moments of loss.  We have all experienced that. 

But, by blessed, I mean that I hope you have experienced God in powerful ways this year.  I hope you have felt His grace, His peace, and His mercy.  I hope you have grown closer to HIm and are more in love with Him and your Neighbor now, than you were this time last year. 

I hope you have know His grace and grown in His grace.

I hope you have felt His love.

I hope you have had peace.

It was traditional for John Wesley to lead his people in a Covenant Renewal Service on New Year's Eve. And as part of that service, there was a prayer that was prayed. And, in closing this year, I want to share that prayer with you

A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

This prayer reminds us that our life is not our own, we live it for God. So many of us seek life in things that are not lasting. We seek to live, but never fully find life. We find though, that when we realize that we live not for ourselves, but for God, we find that true, amazing, all empowering joyful life. 

Not happy life. Joyful life. Life that shines, even in the darkness.  

In this new year, let us realize the power of His grace, the joy of His life, and that hope that comes, even in midst of darkness, to all that stand within His grace. 

May God make His face to shine upon you now, and always. 

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas: Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the constant reminders in scripture, and particularly within the prophets is the notion that God will save His people.  No matter how dark it may look, no matter how dire the situation, God will save HIs people.  He will come to their rescue, and there will be that time with no more tears, hurt or pain. 

So, in the midst of the dark situations in our life, this is our hope: don't give up!  God will save His people!  Good will win in the end!  Love, grace, and peace will find a way!  God will wipe away those tears.  Rejoice. 

New Testament Lesson

We see words of hope in Revelation: do not be afraid!  In a world filled with fear, we have no reason to fear.  In world filled with despair, we have no reason to be down hearted. Do not be afraid. For God is still God, and He is still on the throne.  We are not a people of fear, we are a people of faith. We are not the people of a small God, we are the people of a great and mighty God, God of God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords!  Have no fear!

Gospel Lesson

I could spend a lot of time talking about this passage.  In fact, I'm preaching on it on January 11.  So, I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that we hear what grace sounds like in this passage. The sound of rocks falling as we each understand our own sinfulness and the command of Holy Scripture to forgive others as we have been forgiven.  

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts on UMC Bureaucracy

I love the United Methodist Church.  Born into it, baptized, confirmed, and converted within, now serving as an ordained elder.  I love our church, I love our theology. 

But, as the old saying goes, we kid because we love. 

I read this tweet from@amforbus on Twitter.  If you aren't familiar with Twitter check it out -  You can follow me, I'm @atstod.  Anyway, this was @amforbus' recent tweet: 

Methodists may sprinkle for baptisms, but we immerse when it comes to bureaucracy.

I think that is funny, true, and a little said. We Methodist were historically a flexible bunch.  In revival days when the Methodist church was the biggest in the nation (yes, there was  time when that happened!) we went to where the people were. We went, we preached, we ministered.  We knew that the people and message mattered most.  

Now, today, we know they matter. . . . . . but, you know. 

We have to do things the right way.  I was a conference recently and one of the speakers talked about how the surest way to crush innovation is to push innovation into a certain "way."  There is only one "way" to innovate.  Methodists do it one way, Baptists another, Catholics another.  Instead of focusing on the bigger mission, we focus on the means to provide the mission. And the mission must be provided in a certain way for it to be valid.  

And there in lies the rub.  Bureaucracy is not in itself bad.  Hierarchy is not in itself bad.  Structure is not bad. But, when these things stop being a means to end, and become the end, then we have a problem.  

An no matter the organization, be it a Church, Business, Club, whatever. When the means becomes the end, then things become backwards. 

So, in short, we must focus everything, bureaucracy, everything on achieving that end. And, by use any means necessary to achieve that end. 

And in doing that, we'll recover what it means to be mission minded.  Not institution minded.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Thoughts

Today, just a thought.  We serve a God who over 2000 years ago loved us enough to send His son into our world to love us, teach us, and save us.  He entered into our world to show us love. 

Today, in this moment, He remains in our world. And He will enter into yours. All for that same purpose. To show you that you are loved.  You are precious in His sight.  You are His. 

How did Jesus enter into the world?  In a humble family.  God knew His son would need that family to show the world God's love. So, from the beginning, Jesus has His family.  In the very first Christmas, the Holy Family gathered together.  

And it continues today.  Just as Christmas shows us God's love, it also shows us the power of family. For, in the beginning of His earthly life, Jesus had his family.  And, as He did ministry, He expanded His family to all those that love Him and serve Him. 

So, today, on this Christmas Eve, let us remember that we are loved by a God so merciful He sent His son to us to show us love and to save us. 

And let us take time this day to celebrate that birth, and gather with family. And, just as Jesus taught us, family is not just those that we are kin to by blood, but family are those that love us and that we love.  

In our ministry, we have never served a church close to our family. That has required my family to look at things a little different. We see family not just as those that we are related to by blood, but we see our church as our family, we see our community as our family.  

And, so today, spend time with family.  If not "blood" family, then your other.  Those that you love, and that love you.  If you love no and no one loves you, come by First Methodist tonight for worship. We'll love you.  

Because that's what God did for us. So may we do for one another.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today is what I used to call "Christmas Eve Eve" as a child.  I hope you have a great one!

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage part of what God wants for his people.  He wants the remnant to be restored, He wants His people to be as one.  He wants petty jealously, minor disagreements to be done away with.  He wants His people, He wants His Church to be one.  As we gather together for Christmas, though we may gather in different churches of different denominations, let us remember that we gather around the same Lord. 

And in a world that is so desperately crying out for grace and hope, wouldn't He want us to be one?  

New Testament Lesson

There is that great verse in this passage: "See I am making all things new."  God is always at work, always making things new, always working for good, for His plan, for His people.  He will make all things new. 

With this day. This a new day.  The failures of yesterday are gone. Today is a new day. Breathe the breath like you've never breathed it before. Today is a new and glorious day.  May we live it fully.  May we live it for God. 

Gospel Lesson

We see that God's plan involves everyone.  The old and the young, those that have had many children, those that are barren. God's plan involves everyone, God has a plan for everyone.  And for you.  Today, in this day, God has a plan for you.  Just for you.  His plan for you is not His plan for me.  Each is different, each is unique.  Each is from God. Today, God has a plan for you. 

Live in that plan, and in that grace

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent: Monday, December 22, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

This passage was one of the Lessons read yesterday in our Festival of Lessons and Carols at Ripley FUMC and as I heard it read, something was made to clear to me.  Something I've always believed, but I've never understood it so clearly as I did yesterday. When we see this picture of eternity, we see the lion and lamb, the snake and the child, we see a world of peace, a world were people are not tearing each other down, but things are as they should be. 

We live in a world that is devised.  We live in a world where it is not just enough to disagree with someone, you must defeat them and beat them down.  We live in a world with little peace, in any sense. 

God's desire for us is peace.  Peace in this world, peace in our souls.  May we do all that we can to have that peace our souls, and work towards peace in our workplace, our school, our churches, our community, and our world.  

New Testament Lesson

We see in this passage the point of Revelation.  God wins!  I don't understand all the mysteries, all the symbols, all the other things in this book.  I think that trying to understand every detail of Revelation misses the forrest for the tress. 

The point is this:  God wins!  Let us rejoice in that, and know that God is victorious and will be victorious!  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus came to give testimony to His father, give witness to His father.  And that witness is this.  God is love.  God is hope. God is grace.  God is repetition. God is a second, third, forth, fifth. . . . . chance.  

God is love.  That is what Jesus came to show us.  

Insights for the Ages

The greatest book I've ever read has been Sis. Joan Chittister's commentary on The Rule of Benedict.  Many of you may already know this, but The Rule and her commentary can be found online in blog form @:

I hope you find this as helpful to your soul as I have to mine.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent: Thursday, December 18, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the constant refrains of judgement we see in the prophets is this.  The people did not take care of the poor. They did not take care of the needy.  In fact, they took advantage of them.  They used them for their own gain and their own prophet. They did not even regard them as fellow humans.  

And the Lord rails against this.  Part of what it means to be a Christian is to care for each other. To care for those brothers and sisters inside the church.  But, to care for those brothers and sisters outside the church.  

I know I'm beating a dead horse that I've been some recently, but in this Christmas season, let us remember to think about, to help, to do for those other than ourselves and our families.  Let's take time in this season of joy to help each other, and to help those in need. 

New Testament Lesson

In this passage, trouble comes when people leave what is right, and begin to do that which is wrong.  Today, let's not go looking for trouble.  Trouble will find us at some point today.  Let's not go looking for it.  

Gospel Lesson

John told the people to repent.  To repent is to turn from.  In all of our lives, there are things that we need to turn from, things that we need to turn away for our souls, for our families, for our walk with God.  Each of us. Repentance is not a one time thing, it is a life time thing. 

Today, let us turn from what is wrong and turn to what is right.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Playing Santa

Normally the main source of my blogging is a reflection on three Bible passages, or a quote that is uplifting.

Today, I want to do something a little different.

I want to tell you about something that happened last night. Last night Ripley First United Methodist Church was blessed to host the Foster Families' Christmas Dinner from Tippah and Benton County. Many folks worked tirelessly on the meal, all day yesterday and part of Monday. Teachers from Ripley Jr and Sr High organized volunteer students to help. Folks from around the county came to sing and entertain the families.

My job was to be the visitor from the North Pole, if you catch my drift.

So, I walked in and the children's face lit up. Even the older ones wanted their picture taken.

But there was one girl in particular that stuck we me. She must have been 4 or 5. Wore glasses, cute as a button. I noticed here when I walked in because she was standing in her chair, clapping.

When her name was called, she sprinted across the floor and threw her arms around me and hugged me. She gave me a kiss on the check and said "Santa I love you."

It's hard to say Merry Christmas when you are crying like I was. This girl just hugged me and did not want to let go. I hugged her back, and said "Santa loves you to sweetheart."

I don't know what this child has been through in her life, but I bet it's not been an easy one. She's in the Foster Family system, so I know she's had hard times. But, just the look of love in her eyes, the look of sheer, unadulterated joy in her eyes as seeing Santa could melt any heart.

I don't know how this relates to God, but I guess I can think of two ways. First, do something for someone in this time of year. Let's not get so focused on our own stuff, our own families, our own business that we rob ourselves of the true blessing of doing for others.

Second, when this young girl came to me with love in her eyes, all I wanted to do was let her know that Santa loved her. No matter what she had been through, Santa Clause loved her.

That has got to be how God feels about us. No matter what we've been through, no matter how much we've been beaten down. No matter how life has been for us.

God loves you. And He wants you to know that He loves you.

You Are Loved Today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sorry about no blogging yesterday.  Had a surgery in Tupelo and a couple of things came up and wasn't able to send one out.  

Old Testament Lesson

Those in darkness will see a great light. That list is Christ Jesus. In the midst of our darkness He came to us, and in our darkness each day, He comes once again.  His light will always shine, and it will always call us to Himself. He is light. The light will drive out the darkness.   His light will make us whole. 

But, there are those out there that haven't seen the light. To those, and too all, we are to live as light. We are to live as light barers. We are to bring His light, His love, His mercy, His peace, His joy, HIs hope, everywhere. Through our lives, through our love, through our care, through our smiles, through our concern, we are living the light.  And His light through us may help someone else in their darkest hour

New Testament Lesson

We are reminded to pay attention to the light.  Let us spend our time in the light.  Let us spent our time, our hours, our concern in the light. Let us focus on those things which give us light — the Word, prayer, fellowship, service, these things. These things Wesley called the "Mean of Grace."  In doing that, we pay attention to the light, and we'll be able to shine God's light to those that need it the most

Gospel Lesson

Peter reminds us today that even those that best know the light fall down. All make mistakes. All fall down.  Every one of us.  You.  Me.  As CS Lewis said, "The Shame is not in the falling down, it is in the not getting back up."  Today, we will each fall.  May we find God's grace there, waiting to pick us up.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent: Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today, just a quick through.  I've got go down to Jackson for a meeting in the Conference office.  Please pray for this meeting and pray I don't get snowed in anywhere!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent: Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today, just a quick quote.  

If we only have the will to walk, then God is pleased with our stumbles.
C.S. Lewis 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent: Monday, December 8, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

There are two major complaints God makes toward Israel in Isaiah, and in all the prophets. First, they have placed other things ahead of God. They have worshiped idols; they have become too prideful; they chase after sin.  Instead of starting each day and each thing out with God, they begin with themselves, their sinful desires, and their wants.  

We learn from this that God must come first in everything in life. 

Second, they do not care for or help those in need. They take advantage of the needy and poor.  They do not seek to help the lives and conditions of the neediest among them. They use them only to get what they want. The Lord says that is not right, they must help those that are in need. 

In this Advent and Christmas season, let us not forget those among us that are in need.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul says that no one knows when the day of the Lord's coming will be; it will be like a thief in the night. But, let us not focus on that, instead let us focus on encouraging one another.  Let us focus on being faithful.  Let us focus on being awake.  Let us focus on what the Lord would have us to do.  And in doing that; we will be prepared for His coming.  Today, let us encourage one another!  

Gospel Lesson

We see in Luke's passage another reference to our Lord's return. And in this Jesus tell us to lift up our heads, rejoice, for in that, our redemption draws near. Remember, that's God's ultimate goal for you.  Your full redemption and salvation. Today, you will be tempted.  Today, you will face struggle. Today, you will face trials.  There will come a day, through, when you will not. There will be a day when God will wipe away every tear from our eye. 

Today, may we live on the grace and hope and peace God has given us. And, may we know that a day is coming when we will not face those struggle we face now!  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent: Thursday, December 4, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the constant refrains in the early chapters of Isaiah is God's condemnation of the proud. Those that are proud, those that are lofty, those that think too highly of themselves, those that are not humble in their walk with God or with each other, God will bring down. 

Humility is a great virtue, and is something that we should all work towards. It is important to be mindful of the fact that we are not as strong as we think we, outside of God's strength.  Through God, there is nothing that is impossible. Through our own strength, there is nothing we can do. May we remember that in our weakness He is made perfect, and may we be humble of heart. 

New Testament Lesson

Paul always received great joy in seeing others grow.  It always encouraged him in the times of distress to see how others are growing closer to the Lord.  It always reminded him in times of trouble that what he had done was in vain, that the Lord used what he did in powerful ways. 

Never think that what you do is insignificant. Every little thing you do for God counts. Every kind word, every peace of grace, every prayer offered. Each of these, God will use in powerful ways.  None of it is in vain.  

Gospel Lesson

God is the God of the living. And, in God, life is found.  In God we find our life, our joy, our peace, our hope, our mercy, our very being. God is the God life.  Only in God, do we find true life. May we truly live, today. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent: Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see a theme begin to emerge here in Isaiah that we see in all the prophets and all throughout the Bible. Those that turn to God, they will be restored.  No matter how far they may be from God.  No matter what they have done.  No matter any of these things. All that turn back to God will find God running to them.  

We serve a God that is always there, that will never turn away from His people that will never give up on His people, that will never forsake His people.  He longs to restore them, to save them, to love them. Today, God is just waiting to show His love to you!  

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds the people that he didn't just tell them that he loved them, he showed them his love through his actions. In our world today, what we need are not just those that tell people that they love them, they show it. Today, in our lives may we tell others just how much God loves and how much we love them. But, even more so, let us love them.  Let us love each other.  Let us forgive each other. Let us show God's love to one another by loving one another.  

Gospel Lesson

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  Jesus was rejected by many in His day.  He is now the cornerstone of the church, and the cornerstone of our lives.  He is the foundation.  He is the one that is all rests upon.  He is the rock.  He is the one that it is all build upon and around.  He is the one. 

Today, and each day, may He be your cornerstone.  May He be your foundation.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent: Monday, December 1, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The Lord tells the people in this passage, don't talk about how much you love me, instead do the things that I command.  It is very easy to talk about religion.  It's very easy to talk about how we love God, how God is first in our lives, how He is the main thing.  I have yet to meet someone that would not tell me that God is the most important thing in our lives. 

Do we live that way?  Do we do the things that God has commanded?  Do we show mercy and grace?  Do we love others as He has loved us?  Do we help those less fortunate?  Do our lives reflect the fact that God is most important? 

Because what God wants is not people to talk about being religious, He wants people to lives of mercy and grace, live lives of compassion and care, live lives for Him. Today, may we glorify God with all that we say and all that we do.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul says you imitated us, and in doing that you imitated the Lord and became and example for all the other believers.  As Christians we have the great chance to help others. As God has shown us love, we can show others love.  As God has shown us mercy, we can show others mercy. As God has been faithful, we can be faithful.  As we seek to live like God would have us to, through His grace, we may be able to show others the grace and mercy of God's love. 

I know in my own life, the greatest impact upon my soul was not made by the words of a preacher, but instead by the love of a friend. My we live that type of life that makes impacts upon the souls of our friends.  

Gospel Lesson

The Leaders couldn't put Jesus in a box. They couldn't trick him. They couldn't fool Him. He was always on step ahead.  We too, need to be careful.  We don't need to put Him in a box.  We don't need to think we've got Him, or faith, all figured out. We need to remember that we don't know everything, that we don't have all the answers and there are some things that we'll never know or understand. 

We need to keep our humility; we need to keep our faith.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today, just a quick thought.  And, there won't be a devotional again until next Monday.  We'll be heading south for Thanksgiving tomorrow morning.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.
--Mother Teresa

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, November 24, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see the Lord's great love for His people.  He is mad at the shepherds for leading the sheep astray, but He has compassion for the sheep that have been lead badly by those shepherds. There is a word for us today in this passage. We are all shepherds to someone. There is someone in your life that looks to you. There is someone in your life that thinks you are the example. There is someone that follows you and wants to be like you. 

May we each live in a way that gives that person and example to follow.

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us not to grow weary in doing what is right. Sometimes that's what it feels like. We can grow tired of forgiving in a world that does not forgive. We can grow tired of serving in a world that does not serve. We can grow tired of loving in a world that does not love.  

Let us know grow weary from doing right, but instead, let us remember that it is, as the prayer that is attributed to St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus tells us to let the little children come to Him. For it is in their childlike faith, wonder, and joy, we can see the beauty of a walk with God.  The faith to trust in God, no matter what. The joy that comes from that faith. The hope and belief that God will take care of us. The trust that God is there. 

Today, in this day, may we live with childlike faith.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, November 20, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

There is a great verse in this passage.  Have we not one Father?  Has God not created us?  In this age of divisiveness, in this age of disagreement, in this age where people are torn down each day; isn't that a great phrase to remember?  Hasn't God created each of us?  Aren't we each made in His image?  Doesn't He desire to know and love each of us?  

And if that is how God feels towards each of us, shouldn't we feel that what towards one another?  If God cares of you, shouldn't I care for you?  If God forgives you, shouldn't I forgive you?  As God loves each of us, so are we called to love one another. 

Even those people that we might not like.  For, isn't God their Father too?  

New Testament Lesson

James warns us today about getting too confident in our own selves, our own worth, our own plans.  Instead of thinking so highly in our selves, we should remember that all the good in us, all that we can accomplish, all the promise that today holds; that is a gift from God. God is the giver of all good gifts, and He should be praised for all the good gifts in our lives.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the things that fascinates us, and all Christians, is the end of the world. There are books written. There are websites. There are TV shows. There is everything under the sun. There are many that claim that they know and they understand when it will be and what it will be.  

Jesus tells us, no one knows.  It will come when God deems it is ready.  

And of all the things that we can spend out time worrying about, He doesn't encourage that to be one of them.  He wants us loving each other, forgiving each other, spreading grace, healing the hurting, teaching the children, seeking the lost, visiting the sick, caring for the poor, working for what is right. 

Loving Him. 

Let's do these things that He has called us to, and we'll leave the unknowable mysteries up to God's wisdom and mercy.  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, November 13, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The Lord restores.  That is the hope of so many of the prophets.  The bad times will not last forever.  It will not always be as it is now.  The Lord restores.  The Lord restores hope and peace and life. The dark days will not last forever, the sun will come out again, tears will cease.   Whatever you are going through right now, the Lord is with you, and even the darkest moments, remember, there will be peace again.  

New Testament Lesson

I love the book of James.  There are so many passages in this book that mean so much to me, that have inspired me, that have been a foundation of my life and faith. Today, this passage has several of those, but I'll reflect quickly on just one. 

If any of us lack wisdom, let us ask God.  I love that passage.  There is no shame in not knowing everything.  There is no shame in having all the answers. There is no shame in having all wisdom. Whatever we lack, let us turn to God, and He will give us what we need.  When we turn to God, He will grant us His wisdom, His knowledge, His grace.  

In our own weakness, let us turn to God.  

Gospel Lesson

In the story of the prodigal son, the most amazing thing to me is the father. When the wayward son returns home, the father doesn't make him grovel, instead when the father sees the son returning home, he runs to meet the son.  We have a God that runs to us. When we make one step towards Him, He will run to us. The minute we turn to God, He will run to save. 

Let us rejoice in that we serve a God that doesn't just meet us halfway, He meets us where we are.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

There is one constant refrain in each of the prophets.  The Lord wants to forgive His people.  Every prophet works up the Lord's anger, the Lord's justice, the Lords might.  But, then there comes a point like today's text where it says, the Lord will forgive.  The Lord will relent.  If we turn to the Lord, He will forgive what has happened, He will forgive the sins of the past, He will spare His children.  

The Lord is always eager to forgive, longing to restore, ready to give grace.  No matter where we are or what we've done; when we turn to Him, He will forgive.  

New Testament Lesson

Revelation is fill with some wonderful imagines isn't it?  Who doesn't like reading about birds eating people?  But, the greater point is that Jesus is the King, He is victorious, He will reign over all.  Things in this time may look bad or discouraging, it may look like evil is winning at times. But, don't lose hope. God will win.  Jesus will reign.  God's will will be done.  Live in the freedom of knowing that no matter how things look now, God will win.  

Let us rejoice in that knowledge. 

Gospel Lesson

We serve a God that seeks the Lost.  We serve a God that seeks the forgotten. We serve a God that seeks the one that has been cast aside.  We serve a God that seeks the ones that have wandered far from home.  We serve a God that leaves the 99 to go and find the 1.  We serve a God that longs to see His people come home.  

He will never leave, nor forsake us.  Let us always remember that God loves and us will seek us out, no matter the situation in our live. God will come for us.  God will bring us home. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

When the prophets describe the day of the Lord, the one thing we see every time is the greatness of the Lord. Even the sun darkens when the Lord brings forth judgment.  God is so much bigger, stronger, more mighty than anything in all of creation.  He is the source of creation, and the giver of life.  He is above all, and king of all. 

So, why do we not thing He can't handle our problems? If He created everything, if He is the Lord of all; He can handle our worries, our fears, our concerns.  Nothing is bigger than God.  That means we can trust Him in all of life.

New Testament Lesson

We see the continued greatness of God in the celebration of the destruction of evil and in the wedding feast of the Lamb.  In a world that sometimes seems like it's spinning out of control, we must stop, and remember.  God is at work.  God is doing great things.  God has a plan, God has a way, God is at work.  Let us give thanks for all God has done and for all God is doing.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus tells us to be His disciple, He must come first.  He must come above all.  Obedience to Him must be primary.  He must be our first love, our rock, our foundation.  He is to come first in our lives.  Lots of things compete for our time, our love, and our affection.  And many of them are good things.  But, Jesus tells us, He must come first.  

For, only when He is first, can we really live life fully.  Only when He is first can we really understand and know the fullness, the joy, the hope of really, lasting, and amazing life.  Only when He is first do we know where everything falls into place.  May He be first in our lives today.  

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 10, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Today, the Lord tells the people to wake up.  Look around.  See what is happening.  I think that can be an apt concern for us. We, too, should wake up.  But, perhaps, in a different concern.  Wake up to life all around.  Wake up to life in our churches, life in our families, life in our world.  Sometimes we get so consumed with the concerns of the day, work, responsibilities, the pains of life that we can fall into a slumber.  And forget to look around at life! 

Today, may we wake to the life that is all around us!  

New Testament Lesson

We see in this passage the destruction of Babylon.  We see that God has overcome that which was harming His church.  He has overcome that which was oppressing His church.  He has defeated that which harms His people. 

And that is the glorious hope of Revelation.  In the end, God will overcome all.  God will defeat that which harms His children and His church.  Good will win!  Hope will win!  Joy will win!  Today, we can trust in a God that is and will be victorious!  

Gospel Lesson

We see the love and mercy of our God today in this passage.  He is a God that invites all to His table.  He is a God that invites all to come to His feast.  He is a God that longs to welcome those in need.  He desires all to know Him, love Him, and be loved by Him.  

Today, may we seek to love others as our God in heaven has sought to love us! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No matter if your guy won or lost last night, let us remember that God is at work, grace is abundant, and their is a hurting world that desperately needs to know that is is loved.

Today, in all we do, may we be a means of grace to all.

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 26:1-14

Today in the text, it talks of how Nebuchadrezzar would be used by God for a great purpose. Nebuchadrezzar was not a Jew, he was a Gentile, he was not even a believer in God. Yet, God used him. Remember, can use anyone, even you and and mean. He is a good that can slay a giant through the stones of a child, he can talk through Baalam's donkey, and He can use Nebuchadrezzar. May He use each of us today.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 16:1-11

One of the things we see over and over in Revelation is that God has a plan. He's always up to something, always seeking to bring forth His plan. Remember that in your life, right now, in this moment, He is at work. He is calling you to Himself, seeking to know you in a deeper and more personal way.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 13:10-17

The text says that there was much rejoicing over the wonderful things that Jesus has done. Do we take time to celebrate the miracles of life? All the ways that God works? All the good that God does? All the ways He brings about healing and wholeness in our lives? Let us never get too busy to remember all the good that God is doing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First, sorry for inconsistent blogging.  I've had a lot of meetings recently and just haven't blogged like I ought to.  Hopefully I'll do better :)

Remember today is election day.  For us as American citizens, it is a sacred right to go and vote.  

And, remember who ever wins, whether it's your guy or not, God is still on the throne, Jesus is the Life, and the Holy Spirit is still at work.  

Old Testament Lesson

We see here the Lord say that He will judge the people for how they have acted, how they have served Him, how they have been His people.  One of the things we are reminded in the prophets is that we have an obligation to live not just for ourselves, but for God.  To live for His purpose and His life and His way. Today, let us live a graceful life before our God and for our God.  And doing that, may we be a means to show His love and mercy to all.  

New Testament Lesson

We see this overriding message of Revelation here.  God wins in the end.  He sits on the throne.  All creation will bow down before Him.  He reigns now, He reigns forever.  And, in the end, He is victorious.  

Today, let us live in the victory of God.  Let us live in the knowledge of God's reign.  Let us live with the confidence of God's children.  

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus debunk the myth that if something bad happens to you, it's because you've committed some great sin.  He says this tragedy did not befall those in the text because they had done something wrong.  He said, instead make sure you heart is right. 

I believe in the end we'll not be responsible for the mysteries of God that we don't understand.  We'll be responsible or the things of God that we do understand, and how we live be them. 

I don't understand all the mystery, but I know that God has called me to love and forgive, to serve and be to be salt and light.  I'm gonna worry more about that then the mystery. So should we each.  Let us focus on what we know, on what God has called us to, and let us live out His grace.  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

It's the pride that goeth before the fall.  That is the lesson that is taught to us in Proverbs. We see Hamman's final downfall today.  We see the final judgement placed upon him today.  

In the midst of Hamman's fall, we see the reason it took place was because of the bravery of Esther.  She had the courage to do what is right, to stand for what is right, to stand before the king, to stand for her people.  Because she did what was right, her people were saved.  

Someone once said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.  Esther did what was right, and her people were saved.  May we have the courage to do what is right in all of life's situations.  

New Testament Lesson

One of the things we see over and over in Revelation is that the forces of evil always are trying to destroy God's people and destroy what God is doing.  But, remember what else Revelation teaches. God wins!  The forces of evil will not over come God, God's will, or God's church!  Remember that in the midst of evil it is God that will be victorious!  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us that God knows the very hairs upon our heads.  He cares for us, He loves us, He will not leave us. Today, in the middle of the chaos that waits for us in this day, remember. God loves you.  He cares for you.  He will not leave you.  He will provide for you. Today, and each day, may we place our trust in Him. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Once again, Hamman's pride forces him into another trap.  He feels surly that he is the one that the king wants to honor and so he describes an elaborate way to honor that one.  In fact it is for another and his destruction will be soon.  Humility is something that we must seek after.  It is hard, in this world that constantly tells us that it is all about us, to say, in fact, it's not.  

It's about others.  It's about God.  It's about service.  It's about realizing that in giving our lives away we find it, and when we find something worth dying for, we found something worth living for.  It's not about us.  It's about God, and what God wants to do through us.  

New Testament Lesson

We see in Revelation great signs, great images, great mysteries. But, they all come down to one great truth.  In the end, God wins.  In the end, God's way will be.  In the end, God's Will will be done. That is what Revelation teachings, and in a world full of so much fear, that is a message that we need to hear right now.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the things that Jesus criticizes the leaders for is the fact that instead of doing all that they could allow folks to enter into the kingdom, they sought to keep folks out. Instead of throwing the gates wide open, they wanted them more and more narrow.  Instead of welcoming, they shut folks out. 

That is not what Jesus taught, that is not how He lived.  He told all that would turn to Him, call on Him, follow Him, they will be welcomed. Jesus taught that our past does not matter, only our future with Him.  No matter who, what, are were we are, Jesus welcomes us.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ordinary Time, Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One of the lessons that we can learn from Hamman is pride.  He thinks he is untouchable, that no problems or harm can come to him.  Instead he is setting himself up for a great fall.  We should always be careful getting ahead of ourselves, or thinking that it is because of our strength and might success come.  Hamman thought it was all about him.  His mistake was not in realizing it was all about God.  

New Testament Lesson

Thought each act in Revelation, we see one dominant fact. God is in control.  God is at work.  He is worthy of our praise.  He is worthy of our worship.  He is worthy of our trust.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us that it all starts with belief.  It all starts with faith.  Blessed are those that believe.  Blessed are those that trust.  Blessed are those that have faith.  Today, may we be among the blessed that have faith; that trust in God.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ordinary Time, Wednesday, October 21, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the enduring messages of Song of Song is the fact that we are made for love.  We are created by God to be loved and to love others.  Song of Songs talk about the great love between to people.  We were created by God for love. We were created to love God and love our neighbor.  And, we were created by God to be loved by God and be loved by our neighbor.  

And so in life, we must learn to love each other. And we must learn to allow others to love us.  May we take time each day to love. And may we take time each day to allow others to love us.  

New Testament Lesson

The great lesson of Revelation is this:  God Wins!  God will be faithful to His people, He will bring forth victory for His church and His people.  There will come that time when there is no more sickness, pain, and death, and we will see the complete glory of God!  

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus send the 70 out.  He did not make the people come to them, He sent them out. That is a lesson to us.  Let us go to others.  Let us go to those that are in need.  Those that are hurting.  Those that are in need of grace.  Let us not wait until they come to us, let us not wait until they come to our church.  For, if we wait until they come to us, they may never come. 

But, instead, let us take the good news of God's love and mercy to all that are in need of hearing it!  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do Not Be Afraid

Today, instead of my normal format, I want to share with you a brief reflection on one of my favorite passages of Scripture

Isaiah 43: 1-5

So often in the Bible, the way that God responds to His people is this - do not fear. Do not be afraid. Do not fret. I am with you. I will not leave you.

I love this passage because that is what the prophet tells the people, God has redeemed you, you are His. The waters will not overwhelm you, the fires will not burn you. I am the Lord.

I feel led to share this with you because in my life, I've never seen a time where people are more afraid than they are right now. People are afraid of the economy. The market. Terrorism. There are a bunch of fears in people's minds right now.

And I can understand those fears. As the father of two children under 5 years old, I worry about what things will be like when they are older. As someone that's 32, I joke with those older than me, I know that retirement will not be an option for me, I'll just have to work till the Lord calls me home. We all know what it's like to be afraid and worry.

But, the message of the Bible is do not be afraid! For God is with us! God will protect us. God will be with us! God is bigger than any of these things. God is bigger than the economy. God is bigger than the Dow Jones. God is bigger than all the things that we fear.

And ultimately our life, our safety, our happiness, our joy, these things are found in Him. Today, in this day, in this moment, let us not be afraid. Let us not fear. Let us trust God. Let us rely upon Him. For His is with us. He is good. He is love.

Let us trust in Him. Let us not be afraid.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 1:17-2:10

We've all been in bad places before, I'm sure. But I'm sure not too many of us have been in the belly of a big fish before. So, we can take heart, that even in this moment of dread, when Jonah turned to God, God responded. When Jonah came to the realization that in spite of all he had done and how he had run, his only hope at that point was to turn to God, and God responded.

God always hears the prayers of those that are in need. God always hears the prayers of those that are in the belly of the whale. God always come to the rescue of those that turn to Him. Today, no matter where we are in our walk with Him, let us remember that when we turn to Him, He will be there.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 27:9-26

Paul was told they would make it to their destination, but not without some tough times. God promises to be with us and to lead us to where we need to be. But, He does not promise us that the sailing will always be smooth. Paul knew that he was there for a great purpose and that God would see that purpose through. He relied upon God, trusted in Him, and God saw him through.

Today, in the storms of life, may we have the confidence that God will see us through, and help us arrive at the place He has called us to.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 9:1-17

When we went to Israel over the past Christmas, we got to see many of the villages that the 12 would have gone into and did ministry. They were all close to each other, all throughout Galilee. There was easy access, there was ways to get to each of them. And Jesus deployed the 12 in a way that would ensure that all that were in need would have a chance to be healed.

But, these villages were not big at all. They certainly were not Jerusalem. They were simple outposts, stuck out away from everything. And it was here that Jesus did most of His ministry. For He knew that every person was precious, every soul was of great worth, everything deserved love, no matter who they were, or where they lived.

The folks in the small towns of Galilee were precious to God, as are the folks in the small towns in Mississippi or where ever you are reading this. And so are the folks in the large towns and cities. We are all precious to God. For He created each of us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 1:1-17

We see the Lord call Jonah. We see Him tell Jonah that is to go to Nineveh and preach. And we see Jonah run. We see him flee from what it is that God has called him to do. That is something that many of experience in life. We know that God has called us to something. We know that God has placed a calling upon our lives. But, we may not feel worthy of that calling. Or we may not want to do that calling. Or we may doubt that God can really do what He wants to do through us.

We see in Jonah that we can run. But, we can't out run God. In Jonah, we see that we can't outrun God's calling.

In the people of Nineveh we see that we can't outrun God's love.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 26:24-27:8

We see Paul give an account of his faith, and make a good impression to the leaders of the people. We see them actually want to free Paul, but they can't because as a Roman citizen Paul appealed to go to Roman, and every citizen has that right. Paul shares with them is faith and tells them that his hope was that they become like him. Except for the chains. And, he nearly persuades on to believe.

We don't know what happened to these men after Paul left. But, we do know that Paul planted the seeds. That's all we can do. Plant seeds on faith. And we know that God will do whatever needs to be done from there.

In our lives, words, and actions, may we plant seeds of faith and grace everywhere.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 8:40-56

In both the stories in this text, it is faith that is they key. The woman and the father. The believe, even when others tell the not to. Even when it appears foolish to do so. They believe. And, in that faith, they find healing and life.

Today, in all that we do. May we believe. May we never loose faith. May we never loose hope.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ordinary Time, Monday, October 13, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see Micah despair because things look bad all around.  Evil lays in wait everywhere you look.  Even the righteous have turned away.  And it is in this moment of despair and dread that Micah says, I'll wait upon the Lord.  Even in his time of trial, even now when things look bad.  Even when things look dreadful.  I'll wait upon the Lord.  

Even in the darkest hours, most fearful times, let us wait upon the Lord.  

New Testament Lesson

And now we begin to see why Paul has had to go through so much.  The journey lead him to the place where he would be able to give witness to his faith to the most powerful men in the world.  The journey he had been on took him to where he could glorify God before those that were in authority, and if God warned and changed their heart, then the Gospel would spread throughout the world!  

Paul took it one step at a time, even when he wasn't sure where the road was leading.  Paul knew what he was called to, and he knew who was calling him.  He knew that God would not lead him astray, no mattered where God called him. 

So do we.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus calmed the soul of the one in need. Jesus brought peace to one that was broken.  Jesus brought restoration to the one separated from all.  Jesus brought salvation, and a life full of worth, meaning, and joy.  

Just as He offered to the man in the text today, so does He offer His peace to us today.  

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ordinary Time, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the themes we see over and over again in the prophets is this notion that when the leaders lead the people astray, they will be the ones judged most harshly.  Sure, the people will be judged for their actions, but if the one that is called to lead does not lead, or even worse, is only interested in what they can get out of it, taking advantage of the poor, the needy, those that follow; they will be judged by God. 

This is important for us to remember that no matter who we are or where we are, there are always people that look up to us. There are always folks that think are it.  Where we really are "it" or not is not what matters. They think that we are. 

We must try to live by God's grace in a way that allows them to see how God wants us to live.  Not a perfect life, no one is perfect. But, a life of mercy, of grace, of God's compassion and love.  And in living like that, we will show what God wants from His people.  

New Testament Lesson

One of the things that happened in Paul's journey was that he got to tell the story of God's salvation over and over again, to many different people. God gave him chance after change to tell what God had done in his life.  One of the things we need to always do is to be thankful for all God has done, and share that with each other.  It is sharing our faith we are reminded how good God is to us.   

If anyone had any reason to be upset or mad, it was Paul.  He was beaten, kicked, spit upon, rejected.  Yet, he remembered what God had done for him.  May we be the same way.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the things that Jesus did when He healed or restored people was that He told them, your sins are forgiven.  Of all the things that we struggle with in life this may be the deepest and the most.  The need to know that we are forgiven.  The need to know that the past is the past.  The need to know that God has welcomed us back home. 

And He has.  He has forgiven us. He has welcomed us back home. 

Today, through Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sorry about no devotional yesterday, it was Monday all day long

Old Testament Lesson

I know I've used this quote a log, but It is so true, the reason why God hates sin is because of what it does to His children.  In Micah today we see that the people have turned from God and have fallen into terrible troubles.  So many of prophets tell the people that their sins have such great consequences. 

But, every prophet also says that if they will turn back to God He will save them, He will restore them, He will make it right. 

So is it for us today. When we turn to God we find He is there waiting for us with His love, His mercy, and His grace. 

New Testament Lesson

The Book of Acts at times reads like a suspense novel. We see all these different forces out to get Paul and destroy him. But, in all these things, God is at work bring about something good.  God was at working getting Paul to Rome. It was through Paul strengthening the Roman church that the Gospel was able to explode across the world. 

Even in the darkest situation, God is doing something.  Even in the worst time, God is doing something.  In all of life, and all of time, God is at work.

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus bring restoration to families.  We see Him bring back children to families, restoring hope, restoring life, restoring peace to troubled hearts. 

We know that He is a God that longs for restoration.  He longs for His peace to be at peace.  He longs for His people to be in love with each other, and with Him.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 2, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The prophets are full of powerful phrases.  Today, the Lord says that He desires love, not sacrifice.  He desires the knowledge of God, not burnt offering. God desires for us to have a sincere, heart bases religion.  Not a religion is that is first and foremost focused on what we do.  It is focused on what's inside.  What's inside will take care of what's outside.  If the heart is based upon God, then the outside will be based upon God.  If the heart is based upon one's own self, then so will the outside be. 

He desire above all that we love Him with all that we have.  And, if we do that, rest of our lives will go along!  

New Testament Lesson

Wherever Paul went, he made an impact!  Today, we see him taken and beaten once again for the faith.  We see him thrown out of the temple and nearly killed.  Only this intervention by the Roman government saved him.  But, because of the beating, the Romans intervened. Because they intervened, he was sent to Rome. Because he was sent to Rome, the church was strengthen. Because the church was strengthen, the Gospel spread throughout Europe.  Because it spread throughout Europe, many of us today are Christian.  

There is no telling what God is up to in our lives.  There is no telling what the things that we go through that might now make any sense to us, could be the very thing that God can use to show is love to untold numbers of people.  There is no telling what God is going to do!

Gospel Lesson

Jesus' primary concern was doing what He could for others.  If they could not see or understand the greater good, that was because they did not see or understand.  He was sent by His Father to do good, save the lost, and show God's love to all.  That was His focus. 

May we have the same focus and passion for doing good for others and showing God's love to all.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 1, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The text says here that a people without understanding come to ruin. There is a powerful concept there; this notion that there is something higher than ourselves that we live for and that should help to guide who we are.  We know that this is God, and in living for Him and through His grace, we find purpose and we find life.  When we live merely for ourselves, we do come to ruin. We wind up upset, or alone, or purposeless. 

But, when we live that which is higher, we find that we were created for a grand and glorious purpose and through God, we  can find life and joy and peace. And, a plan for our lives and a vision to live by.  

New Testament Lesson

Even though Paul didn't have to go through the rite of purification, he did anyway.  Why?  To not be a stumbling block to someone else.  Just like Hosea tells us that we live for a purpose, Paul reminds us that we are to live in a way that doesn't cause others to stumble.  Paul humbled himself to help others.  What a powerful concept and reminder for us that we live not just for ourselves. 

Gospel Lesson

Jesus loved regardless.  Tax collectors were unlovable.  They were despised. They were outcast. And Jesus still loved them. Just like today, in spite of all that we may have done, are doing, and will do, He still loves us. Today, rest in His love.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

In the prophets some of the harshest criticism given goes to the priests and the prophets for not leading the people in the right way.  Today, God basically says that His people do not know the way because they have not been taught it by their leaders.  That's a powerful concept to me.  It may just be because I'm a preacher and I know that I have a responsibilities to help others to know the truth about God's love and mercy.

But, it think its true for all of us.  No matter who we are or what we do, there are always eyes watching us.  Particularly little eyes that really look up to us. The question then becomes, how do we live in front of these little eyes. The way that we live will teach a lot about God.  May we live, love, and serve in a way that glorifies God and that shows His grace to all. 

New Testament Lesson

Paul knows that his preaching will in the end get him in a lot of trouble with the powerful.  He knows that those that have the power to arrest him will eventually do it. But, for him, that was not what mattered. What mattered was preaching God's love and mercy, and doing what God had called him to do. 

Paul had something to live for and something he was unafraid to die for.  He had a great purpose.  He didn't just slog from one day to the next, He knew what God had called him to be and to do.  And he lived out of that.  

May we find our purpose and calling and live with abundant passion, doing that, and being that, which God has called us to be.  And in that, we'll know what its like to live, and live for something.  

Gospel Lesson

A friend will do anything for another friend.  We see this in this passage, where these friends would do whatever it took to get this man to Jesus, for they knew only He had the power to heal. A friend loves, a friend cares, a friend will do whatever it takes to help their friend. 

Today, let us thank God for our friends. 

And let us do all in our power to be the type of friend that our friends need.  

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see that in Esther doing what was right, doing what required courage, doing what God had placed her there to do, she was able to help save her people.  God had placed her there for such a time as that.  

Just as He has placed you wherever it is that you are for a time such as this. Today, in this moment, do what He has called you to!  Be brave, be bold!  Know that God is with you at this moment and will not leave you in the moment of trial.  He will stand by your side, whatever challenge you face.  

New Testament Lesson

The word of God in these towns grew because of all that was happening.  When God did great things through people, others believed.  When we are like Esther and allow God to use us, others will believe because of that. Today, may we follow God, give His love and grace, and live for Him. And when we allow His grace to work through us, others will see the greatness of our God.  

Gospel Lesson

In Luke Jesus stand to read and He read to this passage of great hope.  And then He says that it has been fulfilled in their midst.  He is saying that God's grace was there, and that God was going to make things right. They were not alone, God was there, and they were not forgotten. 

Sometimes in life, it's easy to think that we are forgotten.  Today, Jesus says no.  You are not. God will bring about the time of His favor.  He will make things right.  He will right the wrong, care for the sick and hurting, be the protector of the needy.  God will make all things right. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Haman was so consumed by hate that he could see nothing else.  Hatred and unforgiveness are powerful things that will rob us of so much. They will steal our joy, harden our heart, and even take our faith.  Forgiveness, through hard, is an essential for a Christian.  For, it is only when we forgive that we can receive the freedom that God wants us to have. That's the amazing thing about forgiveness.  It's as much about the one that forgives as it is about the one that is forgiven.  

Today, may we be forgiving and loving people.  

New Testament Lesson

Apollos went on to do great things for God.  But, only because Priscilla and Aquila took him under their wing. Because of their love and support, he was able to be strengthened and understand the fullness of what God had called him to.  Sometimes we need someone to love us when we are struggling.  Sometimes we are called to love others whenever they are struggling.  Sometimes we are Apollos.  Sometimes we are Priscilla and Aquila.  

Gospel Lesson

John pointed the way to Jesus. What a wonderful example, and a high calling.  In our lives, that is what we are called to do. We are called to point the way to Jesus. With our lives, our words, and all that we are, may we point to him in each day.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm back from the Innovate Conference in Granger, IN, and while it was a great conference, it is really good to be back home in a normal routine.  

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage one of the great verses of scripture.  Esther is told today that she may have been placed in the earth for just the time as this.  God may have put her in that that place and time for that moment.  

God is always at work.  He is always up do something.  He is always in the midst of something great in our lives. And perhaps in your life, you were placed her for such a time as this.  The challenges you face, the struggles in your life, the things you're up against, the calling you have; perhaps you were placed upon the earth for such at time as this. Seize this moment, live this day.  Know that through God, you can accomplish all the things you are called to do.

New Testament Lesson

One of the things we see about Paul and his ministry is that he was never alone.  He never went alone, he always had someone with him, challenging him, supporting him.  He knew the journey was too long and hard alone.  He knew that to accomplish what God had for him, he needed those around him to help him.

Today, so do we.  We can't walk this road alone. We need the help of those that love us and that have the same heart as we do. Today, may we thank God for all those that walk this road with us. 

Gospel Lesson

We see John preach to the people, tell them to repent, and to live doing the things that are right.  It's not complicated to live as God would have us to do.  Most of it is common sense. It is, however, hard.  It's hard to do what's right.  It's hard to do things that we know we ought to do.  It's hard to forgive, love and serve.  

And we can't do it alone. But, through God, we can do all things.  Through God, all things are possible.  Through God, we can live the way we are called to live and be the people we are called to be.  Through His grace, all things are possible.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 16, 2008

I'll be out of town for the rest of this week for the Innovate Conference at Granger Church,  so no blogging until then. See you next week! 

Old Testament Lesson

One of the messages that God sends to Job in the end of this book is this: I AM GOD.  We can forget that sometimes. We can forget that we have access to the almighty, the powerful, the great, the strong, the Rock of Ages, the Great I Am, the King of all.  When you stop to pray, your prayers are heard by GOD!  How great is that? How awesome is it that the God of creation longs to be in communication and relation with us!  

Today, may we take time to realize how awesome God is! 

New Testament Lesson

One of the things that we see in the Bible is that God will call folks to places where they don't know where they are going.  God calls folks to follow on faith, not on sight. So, He will tell Abraham to go to the land that I will show you.  He doesn't tell him where, just go. Today, we see Paul see a vision to Go. Go to Macedonia and bring the world. The vision doesn't say where in, just go.  And God will make the way.

Today, if God is calling you to something or somewhere, even if you aren't sure of the way, go!  If you know that it is God, if you feel His call in your life, then follow it.  Go where it leads. Trust in Him. And He will no lead you astray.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the most powerful things to strengthen our faith and the faith of others is to remember what God has done for us, and to see what God has done for others.  We see many come to faith in this text because of what God did for Lazarus.  Because of that; many believed. 

Today, perhaps because of what God has done in your life, folks can see their faith grow. And, perhaps because of what God is doing in the lives other, you can see your faith grow. So, let's share and let's learn. But let's remember that all glory and praise goes to God!